Spotlight on Australia

Sentiment moves against immigration

For the first time ever, the long-running Lowy Poll reported in 2018 A majority (54%) say ‘the total number of migrants coming to Australia each year is too high’ up from 40% in 2017. 30% say it is ‘about right’; and 14% say it is ‘too low’. The same-sized majority said that ‘Australia’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation’. However, 41% said ‘if Australia is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation’.

The country is absorbing major changes in immigration since the mid 1990s.

The Guardian reported in 2018 on immigration trends since 1996:

  • A massive increase in Australia’s annual permanent migration intake – from 85,000 in 1996 to 208,000 last year.
  • The emergence of India and China as the largest sources – by far – of migrants.
  • The movement away from family migration to skilled migration targeting national workforce needs. In 1996, family migration was about two-thirds of the program, and skilled one-third. Those ratios are now reversed.
  • A huge increase in temporary migration to Australia – through short-term work visas and international students
  • The rise of “two-step migration”, where those on short-term visas (gain permanent residency.
  • The emergence of migration, rather than natural increase (i.e. births) as the primary driver of population increase.

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